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New spaces for a social choreography: collective weaving as artistic and social practice is the through-line in the work of deufert&plischke.

Kattrin Deufert and Thomas Plischke have always collaborated with others in their 20 years together as artistduo deufert&plischke. From the beginning their performances and interdisciplinary work evolved from a dialogue because of the dual representation. Watching their artistic development, one gets further and further away from the theater stage, the archetypal exhibition space in a museum, urban environments, the singular, genius idea and its excellent outcome or the hierarchy between the creator of art and the audience.

The participatory principle of their work has found new allies – and created its entirely characteristic spaces.

One of those spaces is Spinnerei Schwelm. Close to Wuppertal, and close to the big cities of the Ruhr Area and the Rhineland, deufert&plischke are establishing here a space for experimental art for everyone since the autumn of 2021. At the Spinnerei – a former empty store front with a huge store window, where now red, yellow and blue ball chairs are rolling around and the collectively created display cases are hanging on the walls – consequently many things unite that are typical for their work: Like the invitation to play, for exchange or transparency and the generosity in the creation of a shared space for art that allows fragility and tenderness and where one can confide their secrets, desires and dreams. The Spinnerei is a factual location in the small city of Schwelm. But it is also a concept that takes root elsewhere and starts to engage people.

For the chaos and confusion, and for other people’s involvement courage is needed, say deufert&plischke – without other people nothing can be created. Ultimately the art work is here only the midwife, who assists with the transformative experience. But this assistance is key.

Image from the performance EinSehen by deufert and plischke

The work of deufert&plischke is porous, so there is room for the imagination of the people involved, their ideas and needs. Which requires a whole lot of trust and honesty from everybody. And of deufert&plischke: The willingness to detours, aesthetic compromises and the absolute commitment to the participatory processand that the endeavor will find its form. This way their open-ended projects can fill gaps that appear in the community of a city or village. And deufert&plischke’s artistic approach gets a clear political dimension.

They create their own form of social choreography with their playful system of rules and their open scores. This choreography is open to everyone, with or without experience in the arts, and it takes time. deufert&plischke’s different projects expand between locations and do not seem to find an end.

Image from the performance InsTanzen by deufert and plischke
Image from the performance Durcheinander by deufert and plischke

The patterns are recognizable, but none is like the other.

To accept the loss of control in those works is of social, communal and aesthetic value. But it also makes them complex and unpredictable. No hesitancy facing an uncontrollable world, an uncontrollable space, where the diversity of our society finds its place - don’t we need both right now?

Image from the performance anarchivTANZ by deufert and plischke